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Reflecting on the GW Presidential Fellowship

Tereese Smith, UHP alumna and current 2nd-year Presidential Fellow, discusses the Presidential Fellowship and how she has gotten the most from her time at GW!

Hi UHPers! Similar to many students at GW and the typical “honors kids,” prior to and throughout my time at GW, I constantly searched for ways to get the most from my GW experience. This desire for more, drove my decision to apply to GW, the University Honors Program, and in my senior year, the GW Presidential Fellowship.

After my time studying abroad, I wanted to ensure I was prepared to enter development work, so, I decided I wanted to pursue a master’s degree after I finished undergrad. As I was researching various programs and funding options, I found the GW Presidential Fellowship. I attended an information session and realized it was an amazing opportunity to not only get my graduate degree, but to be a part of a program that is invested in the fellows, both personally and professionally.

The Presidential Fellowship, established in 1989, is a highly selective program, providing graduating seniors the opportunity to pursue a fully-funded master’s degree full-time at GW. Presidential Fellows also work in a GW office as a staff member and provide the student perspective while contributing to substantive work in the office. Through its pillars of ambassadorship, professional development, and academics, the Presidential Fellowship is able to provide the Presidential Fellows with a unique opportunity to not only pursue a master’s degree, but to interact with senior GW leadership to share ideas. Further, the program provides a supportive group of people, in both the advising team and the other fellows, to work towards a graduate degree and prepare for post-graduate life.

I am a second-year fellow, pursuing my Masters in Public Policy with a focus in International Development while also obtaining my Nonprofit Management Certificate through the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration (the HIGHEST ranked Public Policy/Administration program in the DMV). Through the fellowship, I am placed in the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service and am a Coordinator for Database Management and Outreach. In the Nashman Center, I have gained experience in multi-stakeholder engagement, database management, data analysis, and have been able to hone skills I am learning in my academic program.

As a Presidential Fellow, I have been able to not only pursue my graduate degree but also really work to develop both hard and soft skills that will make me an even better development professional. Moreover, I have been able to reflect critically about the skills and knowledge I have gained through my time here. With a vast alumni network of over 150 alumni, the program ensures time at GW and beyond is meaningful. For more information about the fellowship and the application, go to paf.gwu.edu. The application closes at 11:59pm on October 15. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or want to know more about the fellowship, tereese_smith@gwmail.gwu.edu. Hopefully, a fellow UHPer will be in the 2020-2022 cohort!


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